Sefi Roth, a Fellow in Environmental Economics at the London School of Economics, will be the speaker for this seminar. He will present his paper: “The Contemporaneous Effect of Indoor Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance.”


Mental acuity is essential to productivity in most professions and possibly associated with indoor air quality. Despite the empirical evidence on links between indoor air pollution and human health, the literature on the effect of indoor pollution on cognitive performance is exceptionally scarce. I examine this potential link using a sample of university final examination results in the UK. To account for potential confounders, I exploit the panel structure of the data to estimate models with subject and student fixed effects. I find that exposure to elevated levels of PM10 has a statistically and economically significant effect on test scores and other academic outcomes. Furthermore, I find that the effect is larger among male, high ability and non-STEM subgroups and is present at levels considerably lower than current EPA standards. The results suggest that a narrow focus on traditional health outcomes, such as hospitalization, may understate the true cost of pollution as indoor air quality also affects productivity.

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